October 3rd, 2012

Look on my work ye mighty and despair



Seems like all the people who wanted the civil war in Syria to expand are going to get their wish at last. Militarily Turkey is so far beyond Syria it might as well be shelling Syria from the Moon, but expanding a civil war never ends well for anyone involved. The civil war in Syria itself is bad enough, but I'm not entirely sure that expanding it at all, least of all with a NATO member involved, is a good idea. When a civil war ends in the favor of one side because outsiders wind up pushing them to victory over the other side, all this really does is embolden the losers to claim that they really didn't lose to anyone in the society divided in question.

TL;DR: Shit just got real.

Yakov Smirnoff version: In America you carve turkey, in Ba'athist Syria, Turkey carves you.
The Captain's Prop

The Limits of Predictability

Over a year and a half ago, the economics blog Calculated Risk posted this handy chart:

Click for chartistic engorgement.

The author here is presenting a unique way to look at recessions. By centering each recession on the base of the employment trough and counting back to the past and forward to the future, we can easily see that most every post-WWII recession took about as long to recover from the base of the employment trough as it took to reach that ultimate low point. The most recent "recession," represented by the red line (and adjusted to account for an "artificial" hiring binge required by the 2010 census) had already hit its low. Time would only tell if this recession would or would not prove to be just like the others.

Shortly after this chart was posted and had made the intertubes rounds, I shared it as well, closing the post with an audacious claim: "We'll see what happens in, according to the graph, about 15 months. If we're back to pre-recession employment, I was wrong." Yes, in that post I predicted our most recent economic downturn would absolutely not resemble anything we'd seen in recent history.

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Sri Yantra

In the run-up to the debate...

All the pundits seem to say (and I agree with them) that the election can't be won in the debates, but a moment of stupidity could mean either Obama or Romney might lose it.

Does the panel think that either candidate is likely to slip-up and hand the presidency to his opponent? And if so, how?

Also, a question to the various supporters of each party: what is your realistically possible best/worst outcome from these debates?

The interesting thing about any predictions is that we'll be able to judge their accuracy in the very near future, or their humorous quality immediately: so don't stint yourselves. You know you want to.
  • ddstory

All the hype about the debates

Here's a thought. Is it just me, or the influence of the presidential TV debates looks overly pumped up? I mean, those debates are presented as if they're somehow expected to turn everything on its head before the election. As if nothing of what had happened over the last months is of any importance any more. Well, when was the last time a TV debate caused a complete 180'? And, while we're at it, when has any VP debate affected the main battle between the presidential candidates?

OK, in all fairness, there are a few very notable exceptions from the rule. Probably the only VP candidate that made such an impact was Lyndon Johnson in 1960. But neither Dan Quayle, nor Geraldine Ferraro, not even George HW Bush (as Reagan's VP) had such a significance for their respective campaigns. And Sarah Palin only confirmed what everybody already knew in 2008: that there was no way Obama would've lost.

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Georgia's ruling party concedes defeat in parliamentary elections

On Monday, voters in the former Soviet republic of Georgia went to the polls  in what international observers have called the country's most competitive and credible election in history. The results took most international observers by surprise, as the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili (who made his fortune in Russia), won an upset victory over the ruling party of the pro-Western, American-educated President Mikhail Saakashvili. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444592404578032293439999654.html?KEYWORDS=Russia)

Personally I pick variant 3. Its disastrously stupid for Georgia to have bad relations with Russia, because it's all about economy, stupid, whether you like Putin or not. And to sacrifice your own people's wellbeing for the sake of far away country's geopolitical interests is utterly irresponsible. I hope that a more sober Georgian government will change this situation.

Poll #1870331 Elections in Georgia 2012

What has happened and what does it mean?

Yet another US puppet has fallen down. Marvellous day for free people all over the world.
Bloody dictator Vladimir Putin aiming at recreating the Soviet Union has installed his another puppet to continue suppressing free people in yet another small but brave country.
Georgian people got tired of poverty along with stupid propaganda, corruption, disastrous military adventures and decided they wanted jobs more that Ronald Reagan's bust behind Misha's back. It's their sovereign and uninfluenced decision.
Governor Deal will be in office till 2014. Who the hell are all these people?
Your special view. Please write yourself.

Open Thread: Oct 3 Debates

Introducing first, fighting out of the blue corner, he's the first black president of Harvard Law Review, and also the first black president of this little thing you might've heard of called these United States. The Ass-Kicking Kenyan (but only genetically, not legally), the Community Organizer in Chief, the Stimulator Supreme, BARRACK. HUSSEIN. OBAMA!

And in the challenger's red corner, he's a renowned businessman, dog-transport innovator, and hair model for Fulmer Helmets Inc. The Champion of 53% of America, The Magnificent Mormon, WILLARD. Wait am I reading that right? Seriously? God I see why he puts up with "Mittens" now. MITT. ROMNEY!

To all the thousands of partisan hacks here in the arena tonight, and the millions watching at home hoping their candidate doesn't drop the ball...

ETA: Live fact-checking from PolitiFact.